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Common Area Maintenance Tips for Multifamily Operators

As a multifamily operator, maintaining the common areas of your apartment building is crucial for keeping tenants happy and attracting new residents. Common areas, such as lobbies, hallways, elevators, and outdoor spaces, play a significant role in the overall appearance and functionality of your building. Properly maintaining these spaces can also help reduce long-term maintenance costs and ensure that your building remains a desirable place to live.

An illustration of residents peeking out of their apartment windows.

What is Common Area Maintenance?

Common area maintenance, or CAM, refers to the maintenance and upkeep of common areas in a multifamily property. This includes everything from regular cleaning and upkeep to larger maintenance projects, such as painting and repairs, or upgrading and installing technology packages. CAM charges are typically included in the monthly rent for tenants and are used to cover the cost of maintaining the common areas of the building.


Calculating Common Area Maintenance Charges

One of the key challenges for multifamily operators is determining how to allocate the costs of common area maintenance among tenants. This is typically done through a process called common area management reconciliation, or CAM reconciliation.

To calculate CAM charges, operators first need to determine the total costs associated with maintaining the common areas. This can include everything from regular cleaning and landscaping to major repairs, renovations and upgraded technology packages. Once the total costs have been calculated, operators can then use a variety of methods to allocate these costs among tenants.

One common method is to use a ratio-based approach, where tenants are charged a certain percentage of the total costs based on the size of their unit. For example, a tenant with a large unit might be charged a higher percentage of the total costs than a tenant with a smaller unit.

Another method is to use a flat-rate approach, where each tenant is charged the same amount for common area maintenance regardless of the size of their unit. This method is often easier to administer, but it may not be as fair to tenants with smaller units.

Regardless of the method used, it's important for multifamily operators to communicate clearly with tenants about common area maintenance charges and to provide regular updates on the status of the common areas. This can help to build trust and foster a sense of community among tenants.

Common area maintenance is an important part of being a multifamily operator. By following these tips and using a fair and transparent approach to calculating common area maintenance charges, operators can help to maintain the value of their property and provide a pleasant living environment for their tenants.